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Preview: Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's Web



Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.



Updated: 2016-09-21T11:28:45Z

 



Conversation with Isha Datar from New Harvest

2016-09-21T11:28:45Z

This year, the Shuttleworth Foundation asked me to be the honorary steward of the September 2016 fellowship intake. This meant that I would help review and recommend the people who would receive the Shuttleworth Fellowship which funds the fellow's...

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This year, the Shuttleworth Foundation asked me to be the honorary steward of the September 2016 fellowship intake. This meant that I would help review and recommend the people who would receive the Shuttleworth Fellowship which funds the fellow's salary as well as their project up to $250,000. It's one of the most interesting and successful fellowship programs that I know for funding unique, provocative and unconventional individuals and their ideas. I'm a huge fan.

We saw some great applications and I was really happy with the three fellows selected for the round that I worked on, Achal, Isha and Ugo. Through the process I got to know their work quite well and I was excited to get a chance to meet Isha when I was in New York last week.

Isha Datar works on cellular agriculture research, the science of growing animal projects in cell cultures instead of farmed herds. It's a very new field with a lot of challenges including questions about how to make non-animal based nutrient systems, how to make it taste good, how to make it energy efficient, how to scale it, etc. At her non-profit organization New Harvest, Isha is working on the core research as well as funding and coordinating research across the world. What's exciting and important to me is that she's decided to do this in an open source and collaborative non-profit way because she and her colleagues believe that the field is still very early and that it would be advanced most effectively through this non-profit structure.

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Neha Narula, Research Director of MIT Digital Currency Initiative

2016-09-18T20:05:08Z

Neha Narula wrote a post on Medium last Monday about the MIT Digital Currency Initiative at the Media Lab (DCI) and her new role as the Research Director. Also on Monday, TED posted her talk on the future of...

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Neha Narula wrote a post on Medium last Monday about the MIT Digital Currency Initiative at the Media Lab (DCI) and her new role as the Research Director. Also on Monday, TED posted her talk on the future of money, which I think is one of clearest "what is Bitcoin" explanations I've seen. I saw her a few days later and did a Facebook Live conversation with her which I've uploaded to YouTube, SoundCloud and iTunes.

Neha has been working as a member of the DCI for awhile now, but in this new role, she will drive the technical research agenda of the DCI and help coordinate research inside of MIT as well as in other academic institutions and in the broader community. She comes with a solid technical background with a PhD from MIT in distributed systems and previously as a software engineer at Google. Neha and the DCI have already been actively engaged in research, development and teaching in digital currencies, blockchain and related fields, but with Neha's leadership, I'm hoping that we can continue to ramp these efforts up as well as increase collaboration and engagement.

Neha lead the creation of a website for the DCI where you can learn about some of the projects and people involved. Also, as I wrote in a Medium post on September 6, Brian Forde, the director of the DCI will be transitioning out of that role.

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The "there goes the neighborhood" Law

2016-09-19T12:23:37Z

There seems to be some sort of general rule that technologies and systems like conversations on the Internet, the US democracy (and its capture by powerful financial interests), the Arab Spring movement and many other things that were wonderfully optimistic...

There seems to be some sort of general rule that technologies and systems like conversations on the Internet, the US democracy (and its capture by powerful financial interests), the Arab Spring movement and many other things that were wonderfully optimistic and positive at the beginning seem to begin to regress and fail as they scale or age. Most of these systems seem to evolve into systems that are resistant to redesign and overthrow as they adapt like some sophisticated virus or cancer. It's related to but harder to fix than the tragedy of the commons.

I want to write a longer post trying to understand this trend/effect, but I was curious about whether there was some work already in understanding this effect and whether there was already a name for this idea. If not, what we should call it, assuming people agree that it's a "thing"?

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Conversation with Adafruit

2016-09-14T02:38:14Z

I recently visited and had a conversation with Limor "Lady Ada" Fried and Phil Torrone of Adafruit. I first met them about ten years ago at SxSW. Limor is an MIT grad that we're super-proud of and Phil is...

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I recently visited and had a conversation with Limor "Lady Ada" Fried and Phil Torrone of Adafruit. I first met them about ten years ago at SxSW.

Limor is an MIT grad that we're super-proud of and Phil is an amazing pioneer in communications, hacking and many other things. Phil and Limor are two of my most favorite people and I aways get giddy just getting a chance to hang out with them. We discussed making, electronics, business, manufacturing, hacking, live video and more.

They've been doing live video daily for the last 10 years or so and are real pioneers in this medium as well. We used their setup to stream the video to Facebook Live and Periscope and posted the recordings on YouTube and the audio on SoundCloud and iTunes.

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Conversation with Seth Godin

2016-09-14T02:38:34Z

Seth Godin has taught me so much about communications, leadership, publishing and life that I thought that it was important to stream my conversation with Seth. As usual, it was a great conversation. Seth is on the Media Lab...

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Seth Godin has taught me so much about communications, leadership, publishing and life that I thought that it was important to stream my conversation with Seth. As usual, it was a great conversation.

Seth is on the Media Lab Advisory Council.

I streamed it to Facebook Live and posted the video to YouTube and audio to SoundCloud and iTunes.

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Conversation with Danny Hillis

2016-09-14T02:40:34Z

Danny Hillis is the inventor of the Connection Machine, Co-Founder of the Long Now Foundation and visiting professor at the Media Lab. We were at a dinner recently where Danny asserted that the world could be simulated by a...

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Danny Hillis is the inventor of the Connection Machine, Co-Founder of the Long Now Foundation and visiting professor at the Media Lab. We were at a dinner recently where Danny asserted that the world could be simulated by a computer. I asked him to come to my office so I could extract this idea from him into a video.

We talked about the ability to simulate the universe digitally which obviously leads into the future of artificial intelligence, quantum physics, "why are we here" and lots of other interesting questions.

Apologies for the crappy sound and video. My default setup didn't work on the network so I had to use the camera on my Laptop.

I streamed it on Facebook Live and have posted an edited video on YouTube and audio on SoundCloud and iTunes.

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Conversation with Bob Langer

2016-09-14T02:40:49Z

Bob is the most cited engineer in the history of the world. He is an MIT Institute Professor (there are usually only 12). He is also (lucky for me), a friend and a great mentor of mine since I...

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Bob is the most cited engineer in the history of the world. He is an MIT Institute Professor (there are usually only 12). He is also (lucky for me), a friend and a great mentor of mine since I met him in 2013 at my first Red Sox game with David Lucchino who introduced us and invited us to the game.

Bob is a great example and mentor for so many people. I recently got a chance to catch up with him and hear about his story and talk about things like peer review and the future of science. I streamed it using my Mevo to Facebook Live and then posted a cleaner video to YouTube and audio to SoundCloud and iTunes.

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Conversation with Sultan Al-Qassemi

2016-09-14T19:32:19Z

Sultan is the most interesting person I know in the United Arab Emirates. I met him in 2010 or so, soon after I had moved to Dubai. He had just been asked to "take a break" from his job...

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Sultan is the most interesting person I know in the United Arab Emirates. I met him in 2010 or so, soon after I had moved to Dubai. He had just been asked to "take a break" from his job as a journalist at The National, the main national newspaper, for being controversial. I helped him get started on Twitter and he taught me about the culture and politics of region.

He is now a Director's Fellow at the Media Lab and a good friend and advisor.

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with him and get an update and some overviews about the region - Arab Spring, arts, politics, media, culture.

I streamed it with my Mevo to Facebook Live and have posted a better quality video on YouTube and the audio on SoundCloud and iTunes.

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Conversation with Julia Reda, MEP and Pirate Party of Germany

2016-09-14T02:42:30Z

I learned about Julia Reda reading Kaz Taira's blog post about her visit to Japan for a Movements for Internet Active Users (MIAU) meeting. Julia Reda is a Member of the European Parliament representing Germany, and she also serves...

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I learned about Julia Reda reading Kaz Taira's blog post about her visit to Japan for a Movements for Internet Active Users (MIAU) meeting.

Julia Reda is a Member of the European Parliament representing Germany, and she also serves as a Vice-President of the Greens/EFA group, president of the Young Pirates of Europe and a member of the Pirate Party of Germany.

She is was the rapporteur of the Parliament's review of 2001's Copyright Directive.

We set a Skype call and some of the EU's secret conversations about copyright leaked just as the call was starting so we used this as an opportunity to talk about some of the crazy copyright laws being proposed and passed in Europe right now.

I streamed the video on Facebook Live and posted a cleaner version on YouTube.

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Conversation with Daiko Matsuyama and The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi

2016-09-14T02:43:42Z

Daiko Matsuyama is the Deputy Head Priest of the Taizoin Zen Buddhist Temple. Tenzin Priyadarshi is the president and CEO of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT and Director of the Ethics Initiative at...

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Daiko Matsuyama is the Deputy Head Priest of the Taizoin Zen Buddhist Temple. Tenzin Priyadarshi is the president and CEO of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT and Director of the Ethics Initiative at the MIT Media Lab.

The three of us are all friends but had never had met together so we decided to try a 3-way Skype streamed on Facebook Live to talk about Daiko's new book he was asking me to blurb. Unfortunately, the book is only in Japanese so far.

We talked about meditation, Zen, the mindfulness movement and Buddhism. The original discussion was on Facebook Live, but I tried to clean it up and posted that on YouTube.

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Conversation with Martin Nowak

2016-09-14T02:44:05Z

Martin Nowak runs the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard. At a recent meeting at his Lab, I heard him describe the history of life on earth in fascinating way using evolutionary dynamics. At another meeting over dinner, Danny...

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Martin Nowak runs the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard. At a recent meeting at his Lab, I heard him describe the history of life on earth in fascinating way using evolutionary dynamics. At another meeting over dinner, Danny Hillis and he disagreed on whether you could model the universe on a Turing machine - in other words, can we simulate our "run" our brains or the universe digitally.

I decided to ask Martin over to my house to see if I could extract these two stories. I streamed the conversation on Facebook Live and tried to clean it up a bit and posted it on YouTube.

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Society in the Loop Artificial Intelligence

2016-08-31T07:06:55Z

Photo by wp paarz via Flickr - CC BY-SA Iyad Rahwan was the first person I heard use the term society-in-the-loop machine learning. He was describing his work which was just published in Science, on polling the public through... The library at the Minerva Priory, Rome, Italy. I recently participated in a meeting of technologists, economists and European philosophers and theologians. Other attendees included Andrew McAfee, Erik Brynjolfsson, Reid Hoffman, Sam Altman, Father Eric Salobir. One of the interesting things about this particular meeting for me was to have a theological (in this case Christian) perspective to our conversation. Among other things, we discussed artificial intelligence and the future of work. The question about how machines will replace human beings and place many people out of work is well worn but persistently significant. Sam Altman and others have argued that the total increase in productivity will create an economic abundance that will enable us to pay out a universal "basic income" to those who are unemployed. Brynjolfsson and McAfee have suggested a "negative income tax"-a supplement instead of a tax for low-income workers that would help the financial redistribution without disrupting the other important outcomes generated by the practice of work. Those supporting the negative income tax recognize that the importance of work is not just the income derived from it, but also the anchor that it affords us both socially and psychologically. Work provides a sense of purpose as well as a way to earn social status. The places we work give us both the opportunity for socializing as well as the structure that many of us need to feel productive and happy. So while AI and other technologies may some day create a productivity abundance that allows us to eliminate the financial need to work, we will still need to find ways to obtain the social status-as well as a meaningful purpose-we get from work. There are many people who work in our society who aren't paid. One of the largest groups are stay-at-home men and women whose work it is to care for their homes and children. Their labor is not currently counted toward the GDP, and they often do not earn the social status and value they deserve. Could we somehow change the culture and create mechanisms and institutions that provided dignity and social status to people who don't earn money? In some ways academia, religious institutions and non-profit service organizations have some of this structure: social status and dignity that isn't driven primarily by money. Couldn't there be a way to extend this value structure more broadly? And how about creative communities? Why couldn't we develop some organizing principle that would allow amateur writers, dancers or singers to define success by measures other than financial returns? Could this open up creative roles in society beyond the small sliver of professionals who can be supported by the distribution and consumption by the mass media? Could we make "starving artist" a quaint metaphor of the past? Can we disassociate the notion of work from productivity as it has been commonly understood and accepted? Can "inner work" be considered more fruitful when seen in light of thriving and eudaemonia? Periclean Athens seems to be a good example of a moral society where people didn't need to work to be engaged and productive.* Could we image a new age where our self-esteem and shared societal value is not associated with financial success or work as we know it? Father Eric asks, "What does it mean to thrive?" What is our modern day eudaemonia? We don't know. But we do know that whatever it is, It will require a fundamental cultural change: change that is difficult, but not impossible. A good first step w[...]